Monday, April 4, 2011

No. 263: Light, printable, and foldable next-generation photovoltaic cell (April 5, 2011)

The next-generation photovoltaic cell will be available toward the summer of 2012. Mitsubishi Chemical is scheduled to commercialize a printable photovoltaic cell that weighs one tenth of the existing photovoltaic cell next summer. It can be sheeted and folded. Should it be printed on a car body, the car body will be a photovoltaic cell. It can be applied to the development of generating roofs and roll curtains. The company will collaborate with automakers for the development from now on. The new printable and foldable photovoltaic cell uses carbon and nitrogen in place of silicon as the raw material. Called organic thin-film photovoltaic cell, it is about several hundred nanometers thick and available for printing on a curved surface using the ink-jet system. In the joint research with the University of Tokyo, the research team achieved the conversion efficiency of 9.2% that is the world’s highest for this type of cell, and plans to improve it to 15% currently offered by a photovoltaic cell of the silicon system by 2015. The company plans to sell this next-generation photovoltaic cell to automakers for the charging equipment of electric vehicles and plug-in-hybrid cars. Technological progress is amazingly fast.

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